Preliminary declaration of the digital human rights

The Forum d'Avignon initiated the Preliminary declaration of the digital human rights on the occasion of the Forum d'Avignon @Paris, on September 19th, 2014, to define an ethical, universal, proactive framework, balanced between research, economic and social development and personal data protection.

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An op-ed was published September 19th, 2014 in FigaroVox: "For a Preliminary declaration of the digital human rights", supported to date by 210 signatories:

«The question of who owns the personal data will be one of the main political issues of the future», Mathias Döpfner, Chairman of the Springer press group, calls all actors in his open letter of April 16th, 2014. The think tank of the Forum d'Avignon and its partners, meeting on September 19th, 2014 at the Forum d'Avignon @Paris, the first Cultural Forum 100% data, discussed four issues: ethics, equity, transparency of state and local authorities and data sharing, open networks and infrastructures to make our cities smarter.

What were the results of the first Forum d’Avignon @Paris? First, a collective awareness: the use of personal data is a key issue in terms of civilization and culture. This awareness must be used to build a society that is aided – not driven – by data. Second, a concrete proposal: the definition of a universal, proactive, ethical framework that achieves a balance between research, economic and social development, and the protection of personal data.

Both ambitious and realistic, our proposal is neither regulatory – each State or continent must form its own laws according to its own culture –, nor technical – technological developments, even when self-regulated, are such that any digital constraint or protection is doomed to become obsolete.

Consequently, the answer lies, also, in ethics. Four findings have led us to develop and support a Preliminary Declaration of Digital Human Rights, for universal use, backed by the Council of Europe and UNESCO.

  • Now a major issue, a currency and a driving force of a data-driven society, personal data constitutes the digital DNA of each individual. It reveals information on an individual’s cultural values and private life. Protecting personal data from manipulation is a key democratic issue,
  • The culture of data is a positive opportunity, for which an ethical framework must be defined so as to enable the development of research in the general interest, while protecting the dignity of each individual. This transparency may also enhance a company’s competitiveness and reputation in relation to those who refuse to adopt such an approach,
  • It is necessary to inspire the trust of all individuals in the use and security of their personal data, and the collective research carried out on it, to ensure respect for human dignity and cultural diversity. The solution is, by its very nature, universal, supported by and elevated to the level of international conventions,
  • Lastly, humanity has already succeeded in reconciling research on the human genome and the protection of individual liberties through the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, ratified on 11 November 1997. “Digital DNA” deserves similar consideration.

Discover the list of signatories

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Irina Bokova, Director-General of Unesco, also affirmed its support to the Preliminary declaration of the digital human rights.

Read her statement